An Open Letter To Foxtel & AME

On Monday Foxtel’s Facebook page went rampant with posts about an advertisement for the Marriage Alliance “Same Sex Marriage : There’s More To It Than You Think” (see ad here) Hundreds of disgruntled customers and annoyed LGBT Australians and supported flooded the page with messages of anger and disgust over the decision to air these ads repeatedly over the weekend. The ad claims that same sex marriage will lead to changes in sex education in schools, effect children and directs viewers to a website to find more information (you really should check it out!)

Like clockworks customers and the LGBT community and its supporters hit the Foxtel Facebook page, flooding it with outrage. Cancellations and promises of moving to streaming services flowed on their page for days, as well as members of the LGBT community and their supporters tearing down the company for daring to air the ad. I was also one of these people, not a Foxtel subscriber, but a member of the LGBT community and felt outraged that an ad I hadn’t bothered to watch was aired on a service that I did not have. So after I wrote a scathing message condemning Foxtel for daring to show the ad, I actually watched it and realised that it wasn’t anywhere near as offensive as others had claimed, and that I was more offended that the Marriage Alliance seemed to blame the gay community for sinking the Titanic!

Foxtel were not the only one’s to cop it, the Australian Marriage Equality Twitter page was bombarded with messages of outrage, as they had previously confirmed that Foxtel were a corporate sponsor and support of AME. This response was posted by the AME in conjunction with Foxtel :

“Australian Marriage Equality values the support shown by Australia’s business community for marriage equality. Foxtel is among our corporate supporters.

A group opposing marriage equality, known as “the Marriage Alliance”, is currently airing an advertisement through various media outlets including Foxtel. It is their right to express their views.

The feedback from decision-makers in Canberra is that the “Marriage Alliance” advertisement is actually helping our campaign. The ad offers nothing new and and our research indicates that when opponents of marriage equality express their views in the way they have, support for marriage equality increases.

We urge community members who are angry about the ad to turn their anger into positive action.

If you’re outraged with the Marriage Alliance’s campaign the best way to end it is to help make marriage equality happen and recruit everyone you know to help. There are actions listed on our new website www.wecandothis.org.au

You can leave a message in support of marriage equality on our Equality Calling hotline 1300663679. Your message will go direct to your MP and Senators.”

Similarly Fairfax media have aired the ad on Channel Nine and online on their news website. In response they have said a Fairfax Media spokesman said:  “The advertising Fairfax runs is just that, advertising, and not reflective of the company’s position on anything whatsoever.”

It is hard to not get emotional about this issue, Tony Abbott himself confirmed that this is a very personal and emotional subject and it is easy to get upset when the opposite opinion is aired. It is easy to forget that we live in a democratic country that has the openness to show both sides of an argument and it is our job as human beings to respect that there are two sides. We don’t have to agree with it, we don’t have to support it, but we should as human beings and Australian’s at least allow for that other opinion to be heard. Now before you start commenting and biting my head, you should know my stance on the issue. I am a gay man and I support marriage equality 100%. I am not in a relationship so this is not something that is an immediate option for me, but I do have friends who have been in loving and fruitful relationships for many years, who would love the option to enter into a marriage in the eyes of their country.

The good news moving forward is that the five day span of Marriage Alliance ads are now over, in that time we saw a six hour parliamentary debate happen with the current government to decide what to do moving forward with this issue, yes no decision was made, but what did come out of it was more conversation and more discussion within our community. Media outlets like The Project and MammaMia have posted articles and videos in support of Marriage Equality and condemning the speech from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who remains stagnant on the issue. American actor and comedian Jack Black even voiced his opposition to Abbott stating “I personally think the guy’s living in the stone ages, though. He’s not seeing the writing on the wall. The movement of the world is heading towards equality for all people, all sexual preferences. Come on, we’re all the same in the end. Who cares what gives you a boner. Really?”

So where to from here? I can confirm that Australian Marriage Equality have their own ad coming and it will run for a lot longer than the five days given to Marriage Alliance, just like you I jumped down Foxtel’s throat without thinking, without investigating further what would happen with Foxtel’s alliance with the AME and how this will change things in the future. If you look at Marriage Equality in other countries, it has passed when both sides have been given time to air, because in the end love wins. Showing the ad from the Marriage Alliance highlight’s the ignorance and exploitation of children, while AME show’s nothing but pure and beautiful love, love that should be celebrated, love that should be encouraged and love that should be accepted.

I guess this is a really long way of me personally apologising to Foxtel for jumping the gun and posting my ill-informed message on your Facebook wall. At the time I withdrew Novastream affiliation for Foxtel and affiliated streaming service Presto with our upcoming podcast The Streaming Show, we now would like to reinstate our full support and thank Foxtel for supporting the AME and airing pro marriage equality ads on their channels. We look forward to the day that Australia finally achieves marriage equality, until then there will be plenty of debate around the issue and remember, in the end love always wins!

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Society’s Stigma

Attention – the following is a little “ranty” and is heavily opinionated from a white male’s perspective. If this offends you I implore you to not read on, and instead go and click on something else.

On the weekend I logged into Facebook on a breezy Saturday morning and found that one of my oldest friends had posted a rather long and honest status about the state of his mind and the state of society. It is 731 words of delicious and raw honesty and as I read I felt my inner fist pump happening and I just had to share it and add my own thoughts about.

“A few months ago I posted a ‪#‎5NegativeThings‬ to counteract the 5 positive crap people were posting .. “everyone’s news feed is filled with negativity” which at the time I disagreed with.

I must say that everyday now all I see is negative crap!
So maybe I’m behind… or maybe I was fortunate enough to not have the negativity prolonged?!

However, all I see now is hate!

I think hate has become addictive for everyone.

The whole “I’m entitled to my opinion” has made this so much worse!

Suddenly everyone’s differences are on display… And many people make it a nasty opposition!

The only way to make news now IS negativity and sensationalism!

I’m not going to deny that shit happens and we all won’t agree on why, how or when.

To selectively post/share stories to hate (or provoke it) is VERY BAD…

Don’t you see this? Really?

I’m once again not going to deny the problems of people … But to keep highlighting certain topics will only result in opposing opinions and never amount to a solution… or peace.
It only raises fear and hate! The two thing most destructive!

I seriously want to kill myself when I read shit everywhere opposing me!!!

I’m not going to deny it… Ive been pretty low lately, very dark places.

Are you all aware suicide rates have risen??

Why don’t you all care?

I think “WTF is wrong with you?”.

Because I was born with a God damn PENIS I suddenly become hate #1.
Being male means I’m going to rape a woman or treat her inappropriately. “Social experiments” show this to be true! … Yeh ?!
Now don’t forget, When my dangling penis ages = well guess what I’m a fucking pedophile! Yup!

Please hate me!

Wait! What? I’m gay!!!

Mmmm, well I better not go to Russia for a holiday!
Even being in my home country gets uncomfortable and unaccepted by my own government…. Not to mention the stigma mention above … “I’m pedo who will take advantage of of children”…
WTF …seriously… What????

Fuck me and my family entitlements right!

How dare a gay male like children like any other male with children!
I can’t have children in my relationships… Does that mean I do enjoy childhood? Even tho as a child (once) I knew what life meant?!

I have NO fucking chance of love, and how dare I even think of saying I love ‘another’ man….

Even in the ‘Gay scene’ I’m a bloody ‘minority’ by public opinion.

Do you know that I am NOT a slut, and I don’t have HIV/AIDS.
I’m even lesser so than the heteros spreading their promiscuous behaviour around!

I know right! Fuck, wow!

Let’s not forget I have a penis right now!!!.
We know Lesbians are socially more accepted in public, and even seen desirable?!?….

I have a penis and I’m a gay male… Hate Me !

(Oh!you already do!)

Now, regardless of having relationships and experiences from different cultures (because I’m accepting and love everything life offers me) …

Although I am Australian,
I am therefore a racist!
A RACIST!

Hate me!

Can I just say…
That having such an easygoing, loving, accepting and grateful personality is very much a minority in this world!
And it’s much harder than being a part of more than ‘half population’ democratic.

I have a penis and I’m a gay Australian male…
Hate Me !

U hate me yeah!
That’s all I see!

I don’t see myself as gender, race or sexuality… Except where I ‘need’ to declare myself … Like this post!

Fuck that being born with an Australian with a penis and liking only circumcised Aussie men makes me a pathetic person !

Hate me !

I don’t want the “woe is me, everyone hates me” vibe in my life…
But because of the society (you) fuckwits have created, I have no other option.

U post it and I start believing it’s a mass representation of life as a human….
People don’t understand when I say “I hate people”… But really I do.

There was once a time I felt confident and loved. Now my mind sees everything negative toward me.
I now even hate myself.

Life is bullshit!
But only because of the opinions and hate of everyone else.

Can we take a national shoosh on the hate PLZ ?

Peace out x”

I have so many opinions on this and I cannot help but agree with a lot of it. Recently two of my best friends had a child and often I have been there visiting and watching them change her, bathe her and dress her, most of the times the baby has been naked. The first few times I felt really uncomfortable, like should I turn around and not look? Are they going to think I am a dirty perv for not leaving the room? Are they intimidated that I am in the room with their naked child, and I am a gay adult? These are the thoughts that plagued me as they bathed their beautiful baby and she splashed and giggled with delight. These words were never said and would never ever be in their thought process (I hope!) but the stigmata of our society makes me feel like that. At the moment I live with a single mother who was a son of her own (he is 10 I think? Sorry B if I’m wrong!) and he often loves just sitting on his bed with the door wide open with no clothes on (and to be honest who doesn’t!) this still is awkward and I think the same? Does she think I’m a dirty perv? Is she scared to leave him alone with me? When did we get like this?

The same goes for being out in public, since the birth of my best friends child I have noticed children a lot more in public. The cute things they do, the funny things they say, the way they act in public so carefree and reckless. If a child looks at you and smiles or waves, I always feel awkward if I do anything back as I am single gay man in my early 30’s with no partner, no wedding ring, so I must be a child predator and a creep. I think this is a disaster, our divorce rate is high in this country (and the world for that matter!) I grew up without a father influence in my life (for most of it!) and feel like so many experiences were missed because I had a working single mother of 3 as my guide (please note this is NOTHING against single mothers, my own did an outstanding job while fighting depression and illness) but I taught myself how to drive, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I don’t have that “parental unit” to fall back on for support when I need it, I don’t have a father to give me guidance on “guy stuff” and honestly it fucking sucks. So many other children out there are growing up without father figure’s in their life and missing out on that male influence that honestly we all need. So when we look at things like gay marriage and such people’s arguments are that they would only get a male’s influence or a female’s influence, and yes it does come down to the person, but our society is set on gender role’s and still to this day we need both to feel “complete” according to the underlying rules to western society.

I remember back in the early 90’s my family went on a trip overseas to the U.K. I was always an inquisitve and independent child (and still are to this day!) so I had no problems taking to adults, finding out things, asking other adults about sights and tours we went on. As a result of this I made a lot of adult friends, I was 15 at the time and my parents never stopped me or warned me against doing this, by today’s standards this would be seen as “neglect” and I made so many friends on these trips just from speaking to adults and learning about their country.

Now moving onto the gay thing, in my own minority group I am a minority inside that. I am not a young muscle mary with a good head of hair and rippling muscles, I am also not the opposite end, the older, mature guy with a head of silver hair and tons of cash. These are the two groups that our minority acknowledges, if you don’t fit inside either of these you are pretty much fucked (well actually no you are not! You are about as dry as Madonna after her latest world tour!) So not only does straight society put these pressures on me, my own minority group that I am meant to fit into looks down on me.

So what do we do? Because I am white, male and live in a Western country my opinion is suddenly invalid because I am “privileged” But let’s not forget the gay part, so I am infact a white, Western male living in a minority inside a minority who just wants to live my life without feeling like I can’t be involved in the raising of young people who are not blood related to me. What’s that old saying “It takes a village” and I know that Hilary Clinton did not invent those words but in her speech in 1996 at the Democratic Nation Convention in Chicago she did say (and I leave you with this)we have learned that to raise a happy, healthy and hopeful child, it takes a family, it takes teachers, it takes clergy, it takes business people, it takes community leaders, it takes those who protect our health and safety, it takes all of us.

Yes, it takes a village.

Source : http://www.happinessonline.org/LoveAndHelpChildren/p12.htm

 

 

Looking Season 1 Review

Looking – HBO

Looking is the latest in the HBO family of series to be given the greenlight and follows a long tradition of gay television shows being made into hits. Looking premieres a mere 8 episodes and then has now been greenlit for a second season. The show is set in San Francisco and follows a group of gay guys on their many different paths and most importantly relationships.

The main character is the meat of this show, he is the HGN (Hot Gay Nerd, something that we don’t see a lot of in pop culture. He is about to turn 30 and works in the video game industry as a designer and finds himself completely misunderstood by the community, unable to find an area to fit in and more importantly struggles with relationships.

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Sexy is something that HBO tends to not shy away from, and this is the part of this series that disappointed me the most. While there are several scenes it is nothing compares to the steaminess of Sex & The City or Boardwalk Empire. This show is taking place at such an important time in history when as a society we have accepted homosexual as no longer a choice, rather now as actual human beings and not to get all Lady GaGa on you but “born this way”.

The show touches on important issues like the introduction of gay marriage and deals an interesting conversation about how this has been done to make us seem “normal” and this is a chord that stuck with me.

Issues of age and life events are tacked head on, and this is something only seen in shows like Queer As Folk who push the “old man on young man” thing instead we see a 39 year old, dealing with being a waiter for 10 years straight and needing to do something more before he turns 40 because of past relationship and has kind of being standing still. This storyline is a little flimsy as really who is going to believe that no one in San Fran has ever heard of or had peri peri chicken before?

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Dealing with race and inter-racial relationships is another topic that I haven’t seen in a gay themed show and is dealt with.

The gay group of friends that are the central point of this show are not your usual fare, yes there is the token hag, the old one, the couple, the single fat one, the main character.

Some of the story arcs are surprising and take a weird turn and come out of nowhere. A surprise fight between three characters is kind of weird and comes from nowhere.

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The main character can’t deal with conflict, instead makes snap decisions attempting at band aid fixes for issues that the other can’t get past.

The show delves into issues of money and how things are portrayed in gay culture and how all of this is reciprocated. Sometimes things aren’t always as easy as we think, sometimes they don’t ring true to who we are or what we want.

The underlying message of “Looking” feels like we, the audience are looking at gay culture, getting a glimpse of real world type situations and people that aren’t a caricature or overcast stereotype. It is through this that an organic vibe eminates from every angle of this show.

Dealing with mother and son relationships and stereotypes is also something that is explored well in this show. Blaming parents for how we act in relationships is all too familiar and is explained in intricate detail in this show.

Overall this show delivers an engaging 8 episode story arc, the characters are complex and engaging, the setting of San Fransisco is a welcome change from the tired streets of New York. Complex relationships between friends, lovers and family shouldn’t feel so fresh, but this show presents in this way. It is inspiring that a show can hook me in just 8 episodes and provide a season worth of material to keep me hungering for season 2. If you are looking to get hooked on something in the impending desert of TV then this is it!

Looking gets 4 and a half peri peri chicken steaks out of five.

 

Inspiration

Today I had the absolute pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend I haven’t seen or spoke to properly for some time. It has been over a year since our last meeting and the both of us have gone through such radical and immense change it was almost as if we were meeting again for the first time. 

In the interest of this piece let’s call my friend Terry. He has gone through a massive physical change, and mine was spiritual. Terry did the most terrifying thing imaginable and shed some serious weight, like 20kgs+! It wasn’t just weight loss though it is also a daily gym and exercise routine as well as healthy eating, nutrition and building his own garden to not only save money but to also know what he is eating and where it is coming from. 

As we sat in the car heading to our destination I asked him questions that everyone else had “How did you do it?” “How did you stay motivated?” “What food did you eat?” You know the usual stuff, as usual I was looking for the magic formula, the instant gratification answer, even though deep down I knew it was nothing but pure self control, determination and willpower. 

Listening to the story of his journey (I will not recount it here as it is not mine to tell!) I kept reflecting on the last year of my life and how many things have changed. So many circumstances and places I was in have completely changed for the better and I barely recognise myself after a very turbulent 12 months. Please do not misunderstand this post, this is not a whinge just a simple reflection on what has changed in my life. 

12 months ago I was working in a crappy call centre for a greedy health insurance company who cared more about profits than the health and well-being of their employees. I was eating my feelings, living in a crappy apartment and in a degree that I was unsure had any future. By pure universal force my job was taken away from me and I was forced to move back home with my parents (I know!) so I decided to make my life over. I sold everything that I had and made a conscious decision to change everything and become who the person I want to be. 

While this transformation has not been easy, and I am still a long way from being complete, I can honestly say that I am a lot happier with myself now than I ever have been. I remember being scared about turning 30, worried that the person I envisioned myself to be at the age of 30 was not who I was. This scared me but I look back now and cannot believe how much happier I am. 

While Terry’s changes are physical (and seriously the arms, WOW!) he is considering embarking on a no dating/guys challenge for 12 months. I am 9 months into that challenge (nearly 10!!!) and while it has been good for me, I am really ready for it to be over. As I embark on my own physical challenge starting in one day (October 1st!) it is so inspiring to know that the results are achievable and getting into that fitness routine will get there. 

Now don’t get me wrong I am not doing this to fit a stereotype or expectation from the gay community, but rather to feel good about myself, to look in the mirror and be happy with myself inside and out. Also the avoidance of things like heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer will be a nice bonus, along with living past the age of 55. 

I was a really skinny child and teenager, it wasn’t until I quit smoking that I started stacking on the weight. Put simply I got rid of one addiction and moved on to another. After I got into my first relationship the weight started coming back on as the years and unhappiness went on, I never lost it. 

Many times I have tried diets, exercise plans and so many gym memberships that have gone to waste, so what makes this time different? I have a different mindset now, I have a clear goal in mind and nothing and no-one will stop me from doing that. I am the person that can change this situation and I will, I have created a supportive network of friends who will support me through this and I can’t wait to be the best version of myself I can be. 

Terry had a horrible weekend and told me that this day had turned things around for him, but for me it was the opposite. This day had helped give me the boost that I needed to get things moving again. To stop being this stagnant, whining, needy person who is always going to do something and start actually doing it. 

Thank you Terry for helping me today to realise this, and for reconnecting and hopefully continuing this friendship that came out of nowhere but is now something that I treasure and hope will continue to grow. 

Here is a pic of us today, both happy, both different and both moving forward. 

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I’ll be like a tree

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Since I was a child I can always remember my mother’s church singing a hymn “I’ll be like a tree, planted by the water. Nothing can shake me, nothing can move me. I’ll be like a tree!” I remember everyone singing and chanting these words with there fists pumping in the air, singing with such passion and vigour. While the song did have a catchy tune and all the excitement appealed to me, over the last few months this song has kept repeating in my head.

Many people (and myself at one stage included) indulge themselves in toxic relationships. Shacking up with people who will never commit, cheaters, liars, guys in the closet and just general losers who are clearly wrong for them, but when it comes to being in a relationship they are completely blind-sided by the obvious facts that everyone around them can see. If you say something you are screwed, if you don’t say something you are screwed, either way is a no win for you and having been on both sides of the spectrum I can honestly say this is by far the biggest no win situation of all.

When we place ourselves in these situations it is hard to see outside the foggy illusion of love, we are of the belief that no one person or thing can rock us. That we can weather the storm of life together and bury all of the blind sides we conveniently ignored.

 

Sometimes it’s not till a storm comes that things get unearthed, we get to see what’s underneath. The dark secrets and the truths that in the light of day we keep hidden. For some, the truth will make them feel closer, for others it will make them more alone. Pain will get uprooted some pain still too deep to be seen by human eyes. But in time as we replant ourselves we will be thankful, because like the roots of a tree it is what lies beneath that allows us to grow…together or apart.

 

I love this analogy of the tree and re-planting (or potting if you will) ourselves. Some people’s roots are spread around and have withered slightly from over population, some are young saplings encouraged by the gentle water of life to keep growing. Some have been so bitterly bashed and bruised that they can no longer be buried in the ground.

 

When storms come we have to be prepared, we have to have strong and firm roots that can hold on and weather the dark storm headed our way. For it is during this time that our relationship and most of all our selves are put to the test, if our roots are not strong enough we will wither and die, but if we are strong enough, the roots grow deeper and and deeper into the ground.

 

As a person if you have strong and confident roots, no person or no feeling can break or shake you. It is easy to pick up on the bullshit artists coming your way, intent on turning you into blackened firewood. These last few months I have learned that the most important thing, is planting myself around people who will water my shrubs, encouraging me to grow and blossom.

 

Being human it is easy to get side-swiped by feelings of attraction, we often mistake those for love and find ourselves re-planted in an out of season plantation, withering, dying and begging for help. It is up to ourselves to rely one the one person who can get us through these times, and that is ourselves. Plant your roots deep, plant them strong and don’t ever let anyone rip you out of the solid soil you are in. 

Intro (Who I Am)

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When I set out on this ambitious project it originated as therapy for myself, to move past an extremely painful relationship I had been in. I decided it would be good for to write it all down and get it out of my system and hopefully being a writer this would be “therapy” for me to move forward with my life instead of being stuck in this spiral I had dug myself into. After somehow sending this (by error) to my editor, the honesty and rawness inspired me to start writing a “how to” guide for gay men. Something that started out with honest intentions, but ended up being a self-indulgent soapbbox that turned into a mess. After some time to mourn the loss of this project I was inspired by the HBO series “Girls” and convinced myself that it would make an extremely hilarious and interesting television show, so I wrote the ambitious “Gay” tv pilot. I realised after writing three episodes that this was still not what I was wanting. It was entertaining, it would have been hilarious to see this come to fruition, but it didn’t really work as a television show either.

 

It was from here that I sat down and really though about this project, what did I want to get from it, what did I want others to get from it, what was I doing, what was I achieveing? After many long hours of reflection (and red wine!) I have come to the conclusion that I want to write something true, something real, something that matters to myself. It would be so easy to write a book that would accommodate to everyone’s interests, to take the stereo-typical gay guy angle and play the femme queen, or the drag queen, or coming out sob story that our community is so incessant on churning out. What about the real gay people? The one’s who don’t end up as Glee caricatures? To the normal everyday, gay man this book is for me and my hope is that you find some relevance in its rantings disguised as teachings.

 

What is this? This is going to be a blog that I update as much as I can, each piece will be something of my past, lessons I have learnt, things that I am learning now and be influenced by the world around me. I am not concerned with page views or comments, this is purely for me and the hope that someone out there may find something helpful to help them along their journey.

 

So who the hell am I? Glad you asked! I am a 30 year old gay guy (duh!) living in Australia. I am currently completing a university degree in creative writing and communications with a splash of web design on the side, so to say that I am extremely busy is an under-statement. This is the reason why I have not committed to a particular time frame for posting things, some times things get crazy and I can’t do something every week or in a particular time frame. I also have a day job and run a few other blogs that keeps my time pretty tight. I am single (take a number guys! Ha!) and have recently surrounded myself with people who love me, and who influence me in a positive way. I am a massive DC comics nerd and have just started my journey on this whole fitness thing, so getting used to getting up early to exercise is still coming to me but I am attempting to change my body into something that resembles someone who respects and takes care of it.

 

From here I can tell you that there is a lot to come, right now I am going through a weird phase by which I am discovering the real friends from the fake ones, and weeding them out of my life. Usually I have found the cutting people out thing to be a negative thing, but in my experiences and discoveries of late I have found that not everyone is meant to be in your life forever (more on this to come soon!)